This short gay tour is designed as a luxurious extension to our gay Mekong River cruise but also makes a great escape on its own. Spend two nights in the splendour of Ha Long Bay – a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its magical limestone islands – before we hit Vietnam’s capital city Hanoi; home of revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh.
DEPARTURES & PRICES:
• Excursions to charming villages, magical grottoes, and secret lakes on Ha Long Bay
• Squid fishing by moonlight (with spotlights in the water)
• Acrobatic show by Lune Production, Vietnam’s renowned art performance company
• Hanoi city tour including stops at the Ho Chi Minh complex, and the Temple of Literature which was built to honour Confucius
• Authentic pho noodle soup lunch
• Tai Chi lessons
Chào bạn – welcome to Vietnam! Things kick off with a morning flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Cat Bi, followed by a 1.5-hour drive to Ha Long Bay. There the opulent Au Co – our private yacht – awaits. Sip something tropical while we go over our safety briefing, then lunch is served. We’ll cruise and dine our way to Cua Van, a floating village set amidst towering islands. We’ll board kayaks and bamboo boats to journey amongst the fishing families and their homes. Back at the main vessel you can then soak up the sun or settle into a massage. Happy hour starts at 5PM in the bar and features 2-for-1 drinks. After dinner you may kick back with a movie, or try your hand at squid fishing for a decidedly local experience...these cunning critters only feed at night after all. We’ll moor by Lom Bo Island overnight.
Wake up to a Tai Chi lesson on the sun deck or sleep in until breakfast. We’ll cruise towards Bai Tu Long Bay, where the mountains and islands are just as fabulous but far less populous. Here we’ll visit Ho Ba Ham, a trio of lakes on Dau Be / Calf Head Island that are overlooked by most travelers since they’re only accessible by kayaks and bamboo boats. Back at the vessel lunch will be served as we venture towards a grotto known as Surprise Cave because of the massive, gloriously lit space that waits beyond a miniscule opening. Afterward, swim or hike on Titov Island, named in honour of a Soviet cosmonaut who visited in 1962. At 5PM Happy Hour begins anew with traditional cooking and flower-carving demos on the sun deck to follow. After another delicious dinner, enjoy more movies or squid fishing while we overnight at Ho Dong Tien (which fittingly translates to “Fairy” Lake).
Start your day with more Tai Chi before breakfast while the boat returns to port, or sleep in while we land. From here we’ll visit Luon Cave (by kayak or bamboo boat) before we check out of our rooms, brunch, and disembark. We’ll drive back to Hanoi, check in to our luxurious French Quarter hotel, and unwind. Tonight’s dinner is a short and sweet warm-up to an acrobatic performance by Vietnam’s famed Lune Production.
Immerse yourself in bustling Hanoi with a tour that covers many must-see sights. It begins at the Ho Chi Minh complex, where the revolutionary leader declared Vietnam's independence in 1945. We’ll visit House 54 and the Stilt House – where he lived – along with the Presidential Palace, which he shunned given its colonial credentials. We’ll also visit the One Pillar Pagoda and Temple of Literature (both built by Emperor Ly Thanh Thong). After a traditional Pho soup for lunch, we’ll head to the Museum of Ethnology, which celebrates Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups. Before we break for the afternoon we’ll wander through the chaotic old quarter for a quintessential Hanoian experience. This evening we’ll gather for our Farewell Dinner at one of our favourite restaurants of all the tours we offer.
There are no activities planned today. You’ll be transferred to the airport in time for your flight home. Safe travels!
• Flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Hai Phong
• Arrival & departure transfers to/from Out Adventures’ joining/finishing point hotel
• Group leader from beginning to end of tour
• All meals except dinner on Day Two
• Water puppetry show
• Admission to Ho Chi Minh complex, the Temple of Literature, and the Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi
• Old Quarter walking tour in Hanoi
• Private bus to/from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay
• 2-night luxury cruise of Ha Long Bay
• Gratuities for hotel porters, drivers, and guides
Out Adventures is all about good times with likeminded guys. Whatever's on the itinerary - from fireside camping to five-star decadence - our goal is to make the experience magical. We also support the communities we visit by hiring local guides, seeking out locally-owned accommodations, and dining on local cuisine. The goal is to bring you an authentic immersion into the culture of your destination, leaving you so satisfied you may need to spark a menthol.
VISAS: If you arrive directly via our riverboat cruise, your visa will need to be arranged in advance through your local Vietnamese embassy or consulate. If you arrive by airport or another major airport, you can get your visa on arrival. All visas are the traveller's responsibility.
CULTURE SHOCK: When visiting Vietnam, you'll see both good and bad. Poverty is widespread, but the friendly locals make up for it. Since English speakers can be hard to find, arm yourself with a phrase book and a sense of humour!
LOCAL LGBT SCENE: Vietnam isn't a gay hotspot, but's there's an impressive amount of nightlife in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. From hole-in-the-wall drag bars, to cafes, to some of the best lady-boy cabarets we've seen, you certainly won't be at a loss for things to do after a day of temple hopping.
WEATHER: December and January are the best months to travel this region. Rain is rare and the humidity less oppressive. Travel with a light sweater and jacket, but keep summer essentials handy: midday temperatures can eclipse 30°C/85°F.
REQUIRED VACCINATIONS: Based on the entry requirements, there are no vaccinations needed for entry. To determine if you should take preventative measures to reduce the risk of illness, consult with your doctor or a travel medical clinic. OUT Adventures cannot provide vaccination recommendations.
ELECTRICITY: You will need an international travel plug/adapter for type A/C/G sockets. Visit http://www.power-plugs-sockets.com/vietnam/ for more information.
CONNECTIVITY: Our hotel has Wi-Fi access, however our boat on Ha Long Bay will not. If you require connectivity, we recommend purchasing an international data plan or local SIM card (with an unlocked device). Even with a SIM card or roaming plan, coverage may be weak.
MONEY: The local currency is the Vietnam Dong, however USD is widely accepted in major centres. We recommend carrying some local currency or USD bills for small purchases, although credit cards are accepted at most upscale restaurants and hotels. You can also settle your tab on the ship in cash or by credit card.
Please note: We recommend carrying about $400 USD to be used in case of an emergency, or if your credit/ATM cards are placed on hold. This is in addition to your spending money.
For everybody's peace of mind, medical travel insurance is required on all Out Adventures tours. At a minimum, your travel insurance must provide cover against personal accident, death, medical expenses, emergency repatriation and personal liability, with a minimum medical coverage of US $50,000.
For more details, visit www.outadventures.com/insurance.
This tour will be led by a Local Guide and an Out Adventures Group Leader. Whenever possible, we hire destination locals. And we can also connect you with the right people if you'd like to delve deeper into the local culture.
Out Adventures are a great way to meet people from around the world and all walks of life. Bear in mind that everybody's there for a good time, so mutual respect will go a long way. Please be on time for any meet ups, empathetic to the needs of others, and ready to roll with whatever the adventure brings.
Although we can't tell you who your fellow travellers will be for privacy reasons, we can tell you many great friendships began with an Out Adventure. And just because we're a gay tour operator doesn't mean we're exclusive: friends and family are always welcome to join the fun.
If you've never travelled on your own, it's an amazing way to get to know yourself while making new friends along the way. We can arrange for you to share a room with people in your age range at no charge, or you can pay a supplement for your own room. And if there's an odd number of solos, we'll rotate a single room on a random basis.
The itinerary is correct at time of publishing. If anything, it will only improve with feedback from prior travellers and our own research. It's best to reference your final trip documents, rather than our website, in case there have been changes that affect your departure.
All meals on this trip are included, both in Hanoi and on the cruise, except dinner on Day Two.
Liberty Central Saigon Riverside
17 Ton Duc Thang St., Dist. 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Standard check-in time is between 2PM and 3PM. We are unable to arrange early check ins, however you are able to store your luggage and explore the central area near the hotel while you wait. If you would like a guaranteed early check-in, you will need to reserve a pre-tour night of accommodation.
122 Hàng Bông, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
All gratuities are included. We do not recommend tipping guides and staff individually, so please leave any additional tips with your Out Adventures Group Leader, who will be them to the group's gratuities. The only exception is housekeeping, who you may tip on an individual basis.
Most Out Adventures entail carrying your own luggage on occasion. And while you'll never schlep far, things can quickly get costlier than a celebrity breakup if you don't keep your baggage under 20kg/44lb thanks to costly surcharges on domestic flights. You should also bring something smaller for day trips to carry water, your camera, and any souvenirs you find along the way.
The following packing list is a guideline, not gospel. Our Out Adventure Specialists are happy to answer any specific questions about how much or little to bring.
- Passport/Visas/Flight Itineraries/Travel Insurance
- Pre-trip packet
- Credit/ATM card
General Personal Items:
- Eye mask/ear plugs
- Smartphone/camera/tablet/charging cords/International travel plug.
- Luggage lock
- Personal Wipes
- Guidebook/Phrase book/Reading material
- Protection for your devices from water
- Travel-size towel
- Walking shoes
- 'Nice' shoes for dinners
- 'Nice' pants for dinners
- Short-sleeved shirts
- Long-sleeved shirts
- 'Nice' shirts for dinners
- Waterproof jacket/poncho
- Small Umbrella
- Refillable water bottle(s)
- Small First aid kit including ibuprofen, acetaminophen, zinc oxide tape and small scissors, blister pads, diarrhea tablets, dioralyte rehydration packs
- Personal Medication
- High protection sunscreen/lip balm
- Insect repellent/bite cream/antihistamine
- Antibacterial gel/wipes
- Toiletries including toothbrush, toothpaste & deodorant
All Out Adventures guests must have a good level of health. All tours, regardless of activity level, involve uneven steps, stairs, walking tours, and you will be required to carry your own luggage from time to time. Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate individuals with limited mobility unless they are willing to absorb the cost of a private guide/assistant which varies by country and is only possible on a case by case basis. It is also your responsibility to advise Out Adventures of any pre-existing medical conditions that may increase the risk of you requiring medical attention, or that may affect the normal conduct of the tour and the enjoyment of the tour by other participants.
Below is a breakdown of our Physical Rating guide.
1 - Relaxing
- Very little or no hiking
- Light activities such as walking, bike tours, paddling or swimming are completely optional
- Low altitude
- Suitable for all fitness levels
2 - Light
- Light walking and hiking (2 hours or less per day and at low altitude)
- Light activities such as bike tours, paddling or swimming are completely optional
- Suitable for most fitness levels
3 - Average
- Light walking and hiking (3 hours or less per day, rarely at high altitude)
- Some activities such as biking, paddling or swimming. Active days are mixed with relaxed days
- Suitable for an average fitness level
4 - Demanding
- Walking, hiking is a component of the tour (can range from 2 hours to 6 hours per day, at various altitudes)
- Activities such as biking, paddling or swimming may be mixed in
- Suitable for a good fitness level
5 - Challenging
- Walking, hiking, biking, paddling or kayaking are the vast majority of the trip (can range from 2 hours to 8 hours per day, generally at high altitude)
- Activities will likely happen day after day with limited rest days
- Suitable for above average fitness level
The Au Co is a leader in luxury cruises. Aboard the vessel is a sundeck and terrace, a renown restaurant, wellness spa, jacuzzi and library. Out Adventures' customers are automatically booked in Delux Cabins featuring private French balconies.